A system of monitoring the death rates among doctors' patients, which is being recommended for introduction in England, is unlikely to prevent or deter another serial killer like Harold Shipman, a study claimed yesterday.
Researchers at the University of Dundee found that the system, known as routine mortality monitoring in general practice, was only likely to raise the alarm about another serial murderer such as Shipman once they had already completed "dozens" of killings.
The researchers, led by Professor Bruce Guthrie at the Tayside Centre for General Practice, examined routine mortality monitoring, a measure recommended by the Shipman inquiry. They found that even an extreme killer like Shipman may only be picked up by the system after having already killed repeatedly.
The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, gave a figure of more than 30.
Professor Guthrie said: "It is extremely difficult to establish an effective monitoring system like this and there are clear doubts over how effective it can be."